5 Tips For a Low-waste Holiday Season

Going Green with Brown

The holiday season is upon us and so is the spirit of giving. A simple way to give back to the environment is to be conscious of your waste production. 

A study conducted by Stanford University showed a 25% increase in waste production from the start of Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day. There will be an estimated 25 million tons of waste produced during this time period. 

The good news is that there are a lot of ways to help reduce your waste footprint during the holidays. Let’s look at some of the simple steps you can take that add up to a big impact.

1. Send Virtual Cards

Approximately 1.3 billion Christmas cards are sent each year according to Hallmark. Although greeting card paper is recyclable, some of the materials used in greeting cards aren’t recyclable, and some inks are not sustainable. Additionally, recycling isn’t practiced by everyone or in every community. As a result, many holiday cards go into the trash and ultimately end up in landfills.

One simple solution is to switch to eCards. There are several free tools that allow you to send wishes of holiday cheer virtually and for free. You could even send a text message or email. Bonus: It’s easy to include your holiday photos there.

If you do find yourself on the receiving end of a holiday card, make an effort to recycle it

2. Reduce and Reuse Gift Wrap

Wrapping paper is another paper product that often ends up in the trash, and wrapping paper that contains glitter and plastic elements is not recyclable. Then there’s the matter of the plastic film that covers tubes of wrapping paper and tissue paper—this must be dropped off at a thin plastic recycling bin near you unless your municipality offers it curbside.

You can keep your tradition of unwrapping presents by reusing what you already have such as paper bags and old cloth to wrap gifts instead of buying new gift wrap. Reusing gift bags and boxes from online shopping is another great option. 

Side note: Don’t burn your wrapping paper in your fireplace. Inks in the paper contain toxins and can pollute the air in your home and the environment. 

3. Don’t Waste Leftovers

The EPA estimates a 25% increase in food waste over the holidays. To reduce your food waste, send home food after the feast with family and friends and transform leftovers into new dishes. There are many online recipes about using holiday leftovers. Remember that many things can be frozen, too. If you do end up with uneaten food, compost what you can.

4. Rethink Your Tree

There’s nothing like the scent of a fresh evergreen tree in your home to make your home feel festive. When the holiday is over and the needles start to drop, that tree must be disposed of. Make sure this waste goes where it belongs by grinding the tree to make mulch or finding an organization that will collect your tree and divert it from the landfill.

There’s also the option of planting a tree in a pot to bring into your home every year.

5. Make Time for Sorting

Gifts, online orders, and increased shopping mean more packaging coming into your home. Make the effort to sort out paper, plastic, and glass according to what your recycling service requires. This simple step can reduce the environmental impacts of these materials by giving them a greater chance of being recycled into useful new materials. 

Tis the Season to be Sustainable

There are many ways to reduce, reuse, and recycle during the holidays. Offer the environment a small gift this season by being responsible for the waste you and your household create, which will reduce your contribution to landfills and the greenhouse gasses they produce. Even if you only choose one thing from this list, you will be making a difference.

Bernard Brown

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